You know how I like to call myself a “professional masochist”? That’s a lie. I’m a liar. I like a good challenge, not flagellating myself with nothing to be gained in the process; and that’s exactly what the experience of watching Rent-a Girlfriend is like. If you couldn’t already tell from the title alone, Rent-a-Girlfriend (with Japanese title Kanojo, Okarishimasu, or “KanoKari” for short) is a show that tells you upfront what it’s about; when we are introduced to the male protagonist, he has just broken up with his ex-girlfriend and, out of desperation, decides to rent a girlfriend in an attempt to fill the void in his heart. The twist, of course, is the two of them end up lying to his family about their relationship and can’t bring themselves to tell them the truth, so they end up keeping the lie going over the long term and slowly but surely fall for eachother. This premise is one of the main reasons why I initially avoided the show, and I should have kept it that way; I may not have a sense of smell, but I know a pile of trash when I see one. Right out of the gate, the show has a weak opening; but I was expecting it to be good. I was under the false impression that there had to be something more to the show, some kind of interesting twist or neat direction to the plot that would make it worth my time. Well, before I talk about that plot, let me get priority number one out of the way first; the fucking protagonist. The male protagonist is absolutely awful, an encapsulation of everything wrong with the “male anime protagonist syndrome” archetype and just a general piece of shit. To give an example, he’s kinda like Tsukune from Rosario Vampire only a hundred times worse, which is saying something considering Tsukune is not exactly a great protagonist either. The whole show is centered entirely around him and his obsession with his love life and suffers for it; he has absolutely no defining traits, no personality, no character; his entire existence is him being flustered and embarrassed 100% of the time as he simps over every woman who walks within a 5 meter radius of him and ogles them, constantly pretending that he has resolved himself to a course of action and then coming up with every possible excuse to write off the promises he made to himself not minutes prior. He is literally the worst part of the show and one of the primary reasons I disliked it. Now that we have that straight, the plot; the premise is misused and feels cheap. In the end, it ends up trying to essentially achieve the same thing as a traditional “School Days plot” although Toradora is probably an easier example to follow since it sticks to that format 1:1, with the male and female protagonist coming together and trying to help eachother win the hearts of their crushes but falling for eachother in the process. While that isn’t followed exactly here, the end result is almost exactly the same, with male and female protagonist being such unashamed star-crossed lovers throughout the story it is embarrassing. Not only is the male protagonist awful, but the show absolutely loves to draw upon the same age old trope of every other shitty anime where it’s totally fine for a girl to beat the shit out of and admonish the guy, but if the guy so much as breathes inappropriately he’s liable to be shot. Yet despite that, you can’t even feel bad for him because despite how shitty this trope is and how much I hated its inclusion here, he deserves every last bit of the shit he’s given. The show takes what should be an interesting idea—a relationship with a rental girlfriend evolving into legitimate mutual affection over time—and turns it into this absolute monstrosity of a love-pentagon where the male protagonist can’t even take the first step of getting over the ex who dumped him before the start of the show and continues to lead him on, essentially roping himself into every dumbass thing that happens to him because he refuses to even so much as try to own up to his mistakes, so much so he’s the kind-of guy I wish I could slap the shit out of and tell him to wake up from his fucking pity party. Backtracking to what I said about the show’s premise, I almost feel the direction taken with the idea of a rental-girlfriend/compensated dating focused anime is completely wrong, and there’s so much more potential to explore with the notion that the male protagonist does, in fact, not end up with the rental girlfriend and instead learns valuable lessons about why renting a girlfriend won’t fill the void in his heart, and he has to be satisfied with himself before subjecting anyone else to a relationship with him in the first fucking place. But no—none of that potential is ever explored even a little bit, and the plot is so consistently easy to read it is painful. The vast majority of the characters are uninteresting and have no depth, with some standout bad ones like the male protagonist and the annoying ass Ruka who is sorta like Asunaro from Oresuki only fucking terrible, to the point where she stands out as being this unlikable roadblock of a character who serves no other purpose than to introduce artificial melodrama into the plot and be a thorn in the side of both the protagonist and the viewer. Her whole backstory and plot is that she has this “robot complex” because her natural heart rate is low and she never feels her heart beating in romantic situations, so she predicates her affection for the male protagonist entirely based on the fact that he makes her heart beat fast—an absolutely god-awful and forced plot point that makes me physically ill—and then uses that as an excuse to blackmail him into a relationship and be a piece of shit under the false and horribly misguided pretense that the two of them are star-crossed lovers, and then the show fucking SYMPATHIZES with her. After forcefully inserting herself into the life of the protagonist through manipulation and blackmail, trying her absolute best to make his life as difficult as possible, she acts as though she is somehow entitled to the acceptance of her confession, bitching and whining like a petulant child until she gets her way, never taking the hint that she is unwanted and the love she has for the male protagonist is not mutual. And when she does finally get what she wants, she uses that to put herself up onto a pedestal, acting as though she is the answer to all of the protagonist’s problems, then proceeds to alienate herself from him at every possible turn while playing the fool, like she somehow doesn’t understand why he doesn’t want her around. It’s embarrassing that she has to pretend to have the moral high ground in her cat fight with the female protagonist considering the nature of the characters in the show, especially when she’s clearly not supposed to be written as an unlikable character in the same vein as Mami. And I couldn’t even tell you the name of the fourth girl in the aforementioned pentagon because she appears for one fucking episode at the end and has little to no plot relevance whatsoever, she is literally shoehorned in at the last minute so the show can give Mami a reason to find out about rental girlfriends, culminating in the show’s less than stellar finale. The ending is one of the most stupid fakeouts I’ve seen in a long while; the male protagonist confesses to the female protagonist, credits play followed by a highlight reel leading you to assume that’s gonna be the cliffhanger ending for season 2 (which would’ve actually been better despite that being a shitty ending on its own), then after the credits finish you cut back to the same scene and the male protagonist immediately walks back his confession. There is no resolution. What the fuck was even the point of the show? Nothing of any interest or legitimate relevance happens whatsoever. I had 4 to 5 hours of my life unceremoniously sucked away by this motherfucking time vampire, and I don’t even have a single god damn thing to show for it! *sigh* Look, I get it, I get the concept. Even if I don’t think this show had much potential to waste in the first place, what they seem to be going for is a show centered around the emotionally vulnerable nature of the protagonist; he is clearly still bent out of shape over his break up and general lack of a love life, feels pressured by his family to find a relationship out of fear of living the rest of his life as a so-called loser, and initially takes it out on the rental girlfriend who is clearly faking her affections for him. I understand that he’s supposed to be at an all-time low. The problem is his personality doesn’t extend beyond that, and because there’s nothing else interesting about his character the show feels almost entirely one-note, predictable, and by-the-numbers, with a total lack of character development or growth for anyone involved. If we’re gonna go further into the realm of talking about “potential”, oftentimes when I talk poorly about a show I note that it has a lot of potential that was badly wasted, but here I don’t see any of that. It’s just plain bad, there’s very little underlining potential for me to latch onto in the first place. I mean take Oregairu for example; that show I criticized heavily not so much for the characters themselves, who are theoretically pretty interesting and different, but for their portrayal and the direction of the story which was terrible. In contrast, it is not the storytelling poorly portraying the characters of Kanojo Okarishimasu that makes them terrible or boring, but the characters themselves. Perhaps one of the only things in the show with potential is Chizuru’s character; she is notably more mature than anyone else in the show, and there’s a dynamic between her and Kazuya where she offers useful life advice to try and chip away at his childishness, kind-of like an anchor for his sanity. But at the end of the day, she is too sympathetic towards him for no reason, and it ruins the whole thing. I was practically begging throughout the early scene where Kazuya actually tells his grandmother the truth that Chizuru actually wouldn’t come to his rescue, but you and I both know big dreams like that are far beyond our reach. Expecting generic romcom writers to actually do something beyond the confines of their well-trodden comfort zone? That’s a pretty funny joke, huh? And don’t even start with “but the male mc gets better in the manga!”, I don’t fucking care about the manga and it has no relevance, please stop trying to use the source material for shows like these as an excuse for how bad they are; if a show can’t manage to even so much as provoke a smile or intended emotional reaction from you within an entire season’s worth of episodes, it has failed. And you know, if you like harem stuff, maybe this show is more tolerable when thought of within that context, but it doesn’t help that the main character is extremely generic for a harem protagonist and still brings the show down regardless. In fact, I might as well use this time we have to bellyache a little bit about generic harem anime stereotypes; so many shows like these are predicated upon the idea that the male protagonist is both indecisive and easily strung along, unable to choose between the show’s various different girls, and has to be constantly artificially lengthened with no real resolution, much like Kanojo Okarishimasu is here. Why in god’s name they decided to approach this show and concept like some wacky fucking harem anime baffles me, I have never been into the genre in the first place and this certainly doesn’t do anything to help change my mind. The show commits one of the absolute worst cardinal sins of a romcom and anime in general, with the humour and drama at a complete disconnect to the point where it feels like you are watching two entirely different shows, neither of which are very good, and both of which bleed into eachother in bad ways. The drama is cheap, the plot is convenient as hell and extremely easy to see coming from a country mile away, and the humour is plain bad most of the time; especially given much of that humour is centered around the unending libido and subsequent flustered embarrassment of the main protagonist. Not only that, but the show thinks it’s real fucking clever sometimes, and likes to insert what it thinks is masterfully crafted parody of its genre, SO funny, not getting the fucking memo that nobody else thinks that shit is funny and it is little more than a poor substitute for expository dialogue or traditional humour. Why more than half the jokes are other characters telling the male and female protagonist to just fuck already is beyond me, it’s not funny. Fucking stop. This is actually one of the few animes I’ve seen where, lo-and-behold, the Gogoanime comments section actually didn’t make me immediately throw up, echoing much of my thoughts about the protagonist being this fucking simping cringe-lord who eye-fucks every girl he sees. And look, I get it, “sucks to be a guy with eyes”, we’ve all heard and lived the joke before, but people like this man are the reason those stereotypes are born. You keep on hoping and hoping that the show will get better, that the main character will grow, that the story will go in an interesting direction, and every single time the ball is dropped further and further and further until you have completely lost the will to go on. I was already fuckin’ done with the show halfway through episode 3 and just continued to put myself through its legal means of torture for no payoff whatsoever, even to the point where I forgot the protagonist’s name and then only managed to remember it because he’s got the same name as Kazuya from Tekken (10 points if you get the reference). And good fuckin’ lord, the amount of fanservice here is on a whole nother level without even being earned in the first place. Hey, here’s an idea; you ever hear of an anime called Konosuba? You know how the protagonist, Kazuma, is one of the greatest male anime protagonists of all time despite being lecherous as hell? How about taking even one single cue from that FAR better show? Now while the Gogoanime comments section may have been surprisingly safe for viewing (user experience may vary), going and reading the MyAnimeList forums for this show for like 2 minutes damn near gave me a brain aneurysm. How anybody can latch onto any of the girls portrayed here as favorites is beyond me. For god’s sake, Mami who is apparently a well-liked character of the show by fans is literally written to be a manipulatory villain right from the fucking start line, with the only evident silver lining being her torment of the show’s shitty protagonist. Here’s a fun life lesson—just because you don’t like someone doesn’t give you an excuse to try and ruin their life. God, what else…? The fucking music… the direction of the music is god-damn awful. The music itself is not terrible, though it ranges pretty wildly from being actually rather good to not-great, a byproduct of the awful direction in the sense that they couldn’t decide what style of music they wanted for their OST and just went with a little bit of everything instead, giving the show no consistency and no real tone of its own that’s clear. Apart from that, it is misused absolutely horribly all throughout, pervading every single god-damn scene with the most baffling music choices, blasting you with this constant sensory overload and never so much as pausing to take a breath. It is awful and manages to severely undermine some of the scenes in the show that are otherwise decent. The opening and ending songs are generic and I ended up skipping them consistently. There’s no anchor for the show’s passage of time, confusing you when at the end they say it’s been an entire year, meanwhile everything feels like it happened over the course of just a few weeks or months. Shows like K-On that happen on a grand scale help you follow along with the passage of time by accentuating specific events that happen over the course of that time; school festivals are a particularly popular tactic for shows that take place in high schools, even Oregairu tried to ape that formula even if it was with middling success. Here in KanoKari, I did a double take when it’s mentioned an entire year has passed because there is no memorable indicator of this fact beforehand. It’s a small gripe, but it stuck out to me—yeah, there’s a Christmas episode, but if you expect me to remember what month it was when the show started, you’re a hell of a comedy man. Just about the only thing here that didn’t disappoint me was the artwork, it’s done well enough and reminds me a little bit of No Game No Life (though to be honest comparing that show to this one in a positive sense makes me feel dirty). But that’s a low fucking bar, the bare minimum that you should expect any anime to achieve; I can only think of a rare few that fail badly in their visual presentation, like Ex-Arm for example (which is hot garbage by the way). This is the kind of show that I would normally have dropped within the first 2 to 3 episodes; my entire viewing experience was absolutely dreadful, the one single time I laughed or even smiled was because of a soda brand name change from “Fanta” to “Panta” which wasn’t intended humour and isn’t even acknowledged in dialogue. The vast majority of my time was spent with a legitimate headache, pinching the bridge of my nose while getting more and more visibly frustrated. It’s obnoxious, I had to struggle to force myself through the show and took numerous breaks in-between to try in a desperate failed attempt to preserve the tenth of my sanity I had to sacrifice to it for the sake of gaining the leverage for fair criticism. Despite my best efforts, very, very little good about the show comes to mind. There are brief moments where it feels like they actually tried; interesting bits of tension, scenes that would’ve been better if not for the show’s awful music direction and what inevitably comes later, things that would’ve been cool had they been taken a different direction, if the show had worked up the courage and boldness to stray from its beaten path—but it never does. All of it ends up being fucking pointless… *sigh*. I really, honestly absolutely fucking hated this. If I never have to hear so much as a syllable from the name of this dumpster fire ever again, I’ll be happy. And you know, I think a big part of the problem is that I went into it expecting something; maybe if I had watched through it all totally blind, it wouldn’t be so horribly disappointing. It’s not even fun to laugh at—for god’s sake, at least Gamers has a “so-bad-it’s-good” factor to it, it’s an enjoyable show to make fun of unlike this one which brings me nothing but pain. Also, let me just say for the record I watched the show subbed, not dubbed; god forbid I inflict this show’s English voice acting upon myself. While I can’t recommend this show in good conscience, I do recommend that if you’ve experienced physical contact with or breathed the same air as its male protagonist within the last 24 hours to have yourself tested for any number of various sexually transmitted diseases. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m fucking done talking about this show, goodbye.

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